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Hold a candle to someone

Discussion in 'Spanish-English Vocabulary / Vocabulario Español-Inglés' started by Pop.323, Jun 29, 2009.

  1. Pop.323 New Member

    Argentina, Bs. As.
    Argentina - Spanish
    Can anyone explain me the meaning of the expression "hold a candle to someone"?
    Here's the sentence:

    There is only one woman on my mind at the moment and no-one will ever hold a candle to her


    Thank you in advance
     
  2. stretch Senior Member

    It means that no one could ever be like her, specifically as good as her, or even close to it.
    Ex. "In basketball, no one can hold a candle to Michael Jordan."
     
  3. Pop.323 New Member

    Argentina, Bs. As.
    Argentina - Spanish
    Thank you!!
     
  4. gengo

    gengo Senior Member

    Pop, in case you are interested, the phrase originally meant holding up a candle to provide light (in the days before electricity) to someone who was performing some task. So to say that you can't hold a candle to someone means that not only are you not talented enough to perform the task yourself, you are not even good enough to hold the light for the person performing the task.
     
  5. Lerma Senior Member

    ninguna le llega a la suela del zapato.
     
  6. stretch Senior Member

    Good insights, gengo! :)
     
  7. Pop.323 New Member

    Argentina, Bs. As.
    Argentina - Spanish
    Thanks a lot gengo! Is this phrase commonly used?
     
  8. gengo

    gengo Senior Member

    Yes, it is quite common. But it usually is used in the sense described by Stretch, as in "you're not nearly as good as xxx."
     
  9. Pop.323 New Member

    Argentina, Bs. As.
    Argentina - Spanish
    Once again, Thank you for your help! :)
     
  10. eleonb Senior Member

    Santiago de Chile
    Español, Chile
    Do you use it in an affirmative form too?

    Like "A can hold a candle to B" = "A is as good as B (or nearly as good)"

    Muchas gracias de antemano!
    Enrique.
     
  11. gengo

    gengo Senior Member

    No, no se usa de esa manera. Bueno, sí que podrías usarla con un matiz sarcástico o gracioso, como por ejemplo:

    -John is a really good swimmer. You swim, too, don't you?
    -Yeah, I could hold a candle to him, I guess.

    Pero no creo que lo haya oído decir así.
     
  12. eleonb Senior Member

    Santiago de Chile
    Español, Chile
    Hehe it does sound funny to me!
    I will test it (as a joke) among my native English speaker friends.
    And thanks for making it clear that it's not used like that... so far!! :D
     
  13. eleonb Senior Member

    Santiago de Chile
    Español, Chile
    I just want to add a very common expression in Chile (probably in more countries too, but I'm not sure):
    "A no le llega ni a los talones a B".
    Saludos!
    E.
     

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